Look before you leap

I’m sure it didn’t escape your notice that on Sunday Felix Baumgartner jumped from a capsule at the edge of space to freefall back down to earth, and then landed on his feet successfully. What did you do with your weekend?

It was an absolutely inspirational thing to watch. I’ll admit I didn’t sit through the build up, and was a bit of a fairweather viewer – tuning in when he was just about half an hour from the impending jump.

I adored the step by step checklist they went through to make sure everything was in place before the jump. Item 1, do this. Confirm. Item 2, this is the next task. Roger that. I need that orderliness in my every day life!

The moment when the pressure finally equalised and the door popped open was incredible. It happened so fast and then suddenly there he was, with outer space all around him, a tiny little earth waiting beneath him. He shuffled forward, so that his legs were poking from outside the capsule, and the entire globe let out a collective gasp.

He stood up, said some muffled words over the radio, presumably quite inspirational, and then he jumped. It was… well, who does that?

It seemed to be a relatively decent descent, with just a few worrying moments where he fell into a spin. Some of the onboard footage of that make you feel sick just watching. But the parachute appeared okay, and despite a bit of confusion over which direction the wind was going, he made it down to the ground in the designated area. More importantly of all, he landed on his feet, which is about as much style as you can have when you’ve just jumped out of space.

It was incredible. Some have said it could be the “step for mankind” of our generation, and whilst I don’t think it is that much of a breakthrough, there were certainly a lot of amazing things that came of it. The achievement is almost impossible to describe – Baumgartner broke records for the highest manned balloon flight, highest jump and highest speed of descent. He just missed out on the longest freefall, which remains with Joe Kittinger (quite fitting, as he was the one talking Felix through his awesome checklist).

We live commented the experience on Sidepodcast, with most watching via live streams or the news coverage. The YouTube live stream had something near 8 million views, which is just an incredible number. When companies try to say there is not enough bandwidth, we are going to have to argue that! It was an incredible moment, covered on our site and on Twitter, and the ability to discuss and share with others made it even more special.

Now we’re just left to wonder what on earth he’s going to do next!